Well, we’re sure going to have a lot to discuss today. So close your door and make believe you’re hard at work while you join the Live Chat today at noon. Bring questions and comments about the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Boston, or about the Rick Nash trade talk (it’s no longer rumors, folks), or about the season so far and the season that’s left, or about, dare we say, the Stanley Cup playoffs.
I’m not saying the Rangers are better than the Bruins, or at least not that much better. Roger Neilson used to say, it’s not who you play as much as when you play them. The Bruins are going through a rough patch right now. Right now, Feb. 14-15, 2012, the Rangers are much better than they are.
Does that make sense?
1) The best part, maybe, is that the Rangers didn’t think they played great, and they all said it. Brandon Dubinsky (though swollen, bloody, stitched-up lips and chipped teeth) said the coaches are sure going to point out where they need to be better. Says a lot about this team, and about its coaches … the head coach should walk away with the Jack Adams Trophy, though I’m sure he couldn’t care less.
2) Even the best team in the East has rough patches during the course of games, and when they do, their best player is at his best almost every time. Henrik Lundqvist is the best goaltender in the league, and probably doesn’t even get enough credit for why the Rangers have won so many games … or lost so few. There probably aren’t enough intelligent voters for Lundqvist to win the MVP which he certainly deserves as the No. 1 reason for the best team being the best team, and there sure are enough clueless voters among the GMs who select the Vezina, so there’s a chance he will win neither. But he should win both. Seven shutouts! Seemed he was just showin’ off against Krejci on the PP breakaway in the final minute.
3) This game was not nearly as brutally physical as last time they met.
4) Rangers: 5-1 in last six vs. Boston; 7-0 in last seven vs. Flys.
5) The Rangers defensemen—and I’ve been meaning to say this for a while—don’t slide around on their knees nearly as much this year. Which is why they clog the front of the net as well as they do, why they block passes across the front, why they take the man and let Lundqvist handle rebounds … and limit the number of rebounds he has to handle. I like it that Marc Staal’s starting to get a little ticked off during games. He plays better that way.
6) Milan Lucic=Monster.
7) Yeah, the Rangers didn’t have the puck enough, and didn’t create a lot. But, geez. There was that tic-tac-toe Ryan Callahan PPG, which was identical to one he scored on the weekend. This is why the PP should be better. Marian Gaborik, Michael Del Zotto, Derek Stepan and Brad Richards are all exceptional passers. Del Zotto moving in from the left poiint is a new wrinkle lately. Reminds me of last year when, until teams figured it out, they had Marc Staal circling into the slot, and a forward moving to the left point and cheating into the circle.
8) Stepan made a really good play against Johnny Boychuk along the back wall that allowed the flukish Ryan McDonagh goal late in the first. Game-changing goal.
9) How about the Captain with six goals in the last four? He did absolutely everything, didn’t he? Again. And Richards looks like a completely different player the last four or five games, doesn’t he?
10) I know that the Rangers are looking to land Rick Nash, and not sure if they can or will. One of the guys in the talk is Artem Anisimov, who continues to show in spurts that he’s still a very promising work in progress. On his goal, I thought he was going to pass it, and I was already thinking in my head how I was going to rip him for forcing the pass.
11) We sure had some fun with the nose jokes regarding Brad Marchand—the Bruins’ Callahan-type. When I spoke with Pat Verbeek the other night, he sounded ticked that they’re calling Marchand “the Little Ball of Hate.” But Marchand is that.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Henrik Lundqvist (duh!).
2) Ryan Callahan.
3) Dan Girardi.
AP photos, above.